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Lower house passes 'anti-conspiracy' bill at plenary session despite protests

Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda bows after the "anti-conspiracy" bill passed the House of Representatives plenary session on May 23, 2017. (Mainichi)

The House of Representatives on May 23 approved a controversial "anti-conspiracy" bill that would criminalize preparation for terrorism and other crimes by changing the conditions that constitute conspiracy, despite protests from main opposition parties.

    The ruling coalition comprised of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito, as well as the opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) voted for the bill to revise the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds at a May 23 plenary session. The bill will now be referred to the House of Councillors for deliberation.

    The governing bloc aims to begin deliberations on the bill at the upper chamber on May 24. However, the Democratic Party (DP) and Japanese Communist Party, among other opposition parties, are stiffening their resistance to the move. A tug-of-war is accordingly intensifying between ruling and opposition parties over the proposed legislation.

    Prior to the lower house vote, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga underscored the need for the amendment. "In order to sign the treaty (U.N. Convention on Transnational Organized Crime), we'd like to aim for enactment of the bill as soon as possible," he told a news conference on the morning of May 23.

    Referring to a suspected terror attack at a concert in Britain, LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai told reporters, "Rather than regarding the incident as something that occurred overseas, we must think more seriously about countermeasures (against such incidents)."

    In a news conference prior to the vote, DP Diet Affairs Committee chairman Kazunori Yamanoi called for caution in dealing with the bill. "I'm afraid Japan will become a surveillance society. The government should pause and avoid ramming the anti-conspiracy bill through the chamber," he said.

    Meanwhile, Masaji Matsuyama, head of the Diet Affairs Committee in the LDP's upper house caucus, consulted with his DP counterpart Kazuya Shinba over the schedule of deliberations in the chamber. Shinba refused to launch deliberations in the upper house on May 24.

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